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What Is Successful Sales Culture?

When asked “what makes a successful sales organization” the most common response is “they sell a lot”. Yes, they need to sell a lot and hit their goals. But how do they do that? A key part of a successful, or healthy, sales organization is that they have a strong sales culture. Here is how to create a successful sales culture.

Top-Down Effect

Everything starts with the top down in an organization. As the CEO, a good company and sales culture begins with you. If you don't have clear direction, your sales leader won't have a clear direction, cascading to the salespeople. The same is true if you don't have clear expectations or if you aren't holding them accountable.

According to WorkForce, "60% of companies don't have a long-term strategy for their internal communications." Which can lead to poor company and sales culture.

The lack of communication with your leadership team often trickles to each department, sales, marketing, operations, etc., and they begin to form their own agendas. As groups like Sales gets invested in their plans, it becomes increasingly harder to attain alignment and shared purpose.

Alignment on Goals

Being aligned on goals and objectives is a vital part of a better culture. Unfortunately, alignment problems start at the top with senior executives. This can happen when leaders like your sales leader do not entirely know your plan or thinking. To make sure all levels of the organization understand what is expected of them, align with your sales leader, and let them know your goal from the start.

Leadership IQ's new report, The State Of Leadership Development In 2020, surveyed 21,008 employees to assess leaders' effectiveness. This study found that only "29% of employees say that their leader's vision for the future always seems to be aligned with the organization's."

Goal alignment is the process by which you keep your leaders and their teams working towards your company’s goals. When these goals are set, steps should be put into place to ensure that your leaders and their teams are informed about what they should be working on. Don't forget to explain why this is important to them and the company. 

This again will trickle down to team members and will allow everyone to be aligned. Proper alignment with goals ensures the work of your best talent is effectively and efficiently utilized.

When everyone in your company understands their goals and how they align with both their team's and leader’s goals, you can trust that everyone in your company is collaborating on the right projects, at the right time, to reach that goal.

Plan and Process

To align goals and create a successful sales culture, you need both a plan and process. It's important not to lose sight of long-term objectives. Without having the end in mind, you can get off track quickly. If your short-term plans work against your long-term vision, you can run into issues.

Plan

Just having a plan with the target of "hitting goal" isn't good enough. It will not get you to that successful sales culture, you want. You'll want your sales leader to break it down into specific items like how much revenue is needed, how many opportunities, the ideal close rate, initiatives, etc. The more specific they can get, the more likely to hit your goal.

Process

After you and your sales leader have a plan, the goals, and the numbers determined, you'll need a process that gets you there. Have your sales leader create a process that will determine how their salespeople get in the door, how they will accomplish good discovery, what products they will focus on, how they will get commitments, etc. The process your sales leader creates is just as important as the plan itself.

Feedback is Important

Feedback is essential when it comes to a successful sales culture. The purpose of giving effective feedback is to improve the situation, or a person's performance. When feedback is too harsh, critical, or offensive, people have a hard time learning from it because they may become defensive or insulted. Positive feedback provides positive observations and suggestions that allow others to see what can change to improve their focus and results.

According to Officevibe, "43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week compared to only 18% of employees with low engagement." 

If an employee is getting a lot of feedback, they feel like they're a large part of the company. Thus, making them feel engaged with the vision and values of the company. As a leader, take some time every week to listen to what your employees have to say. It can make all the difference.

In the End

To ensure you create a successful sales culture and healthy sales organization overall, you need team alignment, a plan, and a process. Having these allows you to generate new ideas, create different paths to success, align your leadership team and your organization on the goals, and each individual's role.

About Gary Braun

Gary is a founder and co-owner of Pivotal Advisors. He has worked for 20+ years as a salesperson and sales leader. Gary has been a guest speaker for many groups such as Vistage, Allied Executives, CEO Roundtable, Sales Management Association, and more. If you want to find out more about Gary check out his profile here.
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